Archive for March, 2011
Lately we seem to be butting heads a little with some tenants regarding the condition of a property after they have vacated.
The Residential Tenancies Act of 1986 Section 40 (e) (iii) states: the tenant shall – on the termination of the tenancy – leave the premises in a reasonably clean and reasonably tidy condition, and remove or arrange for the removal from the premises of all rubbish.
Now I will admit, with a degree of exasperation, that “reasonably clean” and “reasonably tidy” are subjective terms.
The dictionary definition of reasonable is: sensible, not making unfair demands, logical.
So, is it sensible to leave black finger marks on light switches? Is it fair that if you spill food and beverages down the front of cupboards that you leave the mess there for someone else to clean up?
Is it logical that rubbish is removed from the house but left in the garage, behind the garage or under the house? And what about skirting boards…..is it “reasonably clean” when you don’t even try to remove the dust build up? … Don’t start me on the ovens!
But all of those examples are quite clear and we have no problem saying “fix or pay”. It is the ones where the tenant has wiped benches down, but used a dirty cloth to do so leaving smear marks everywhere. I have had an adjudicator tell me that the smear marks may be dirty to me, however it did prove that the tenant had made a “reasonable” attempt at cleaning. And she is right. The tenant had very conscientiously cleaned almost every surface of the house. Her intention was to do the right thing. She just didn’t think to wash her cloth from time to time! … Frustrating!
Now if you have a great relationship with the tenant you can gently suggest that a re-wipe would be beneficial. However, handled roughly or any previous history of contention is likely to leave you with a “Nah huh! Been there, done that, you don’t like it, then you do it” kind of response.
So where is this leading? Other than me letting off some steam? Well we tell our landlords, and I sincerely believe this, that is a very good idea to factor into their budget allowance to pay for a commercial clean every 3 or 4 tenancies. If you simply leave the quality of the clean to the tenant it will gradually, over time, go down hill. That is logical. It is much easier to set a high standard of cleanliness, if it is sparkling clean when they went in. The same adjudicator said to me, renting properties is a business. Business comes with expenses. Expenses that are the business owners. Her judgement scale? Say the best would be a 10 and the worst a 0, then in the adjudicator’s eyes she tries to settle on a 7.
Property managers hold tenants responsible as much as possible, and it totally rocks when owners say ok, lets get this back to the standard we want. Then the property is rented quicker and attracts a great sort of tenant and it is easier at the end to say well, we can PROVE the quality of clean when you went in, not just with photos and reports, but because this home is consistently kept to a great standard by landlords that care. And we have the invoice history to prove it. The adjudicators love it. And we say ditto!
So, to all the Property Managers out there I ask you this: ”How you deal with this common occurrence – where do you draw the line?”
March 31 2011 | conflict / resolution and Investors and landlords and Relationships and Tenants | 5 Comments »
Will someone please tell me why lovely, sweet young women allow bullies into their lives and almost as bad, into their homes? It never ceases to astound me, and not in a good way, how young women attract, or are attracted to males that insist on hurting them, damaging the property … and spending all the rent money! (Not men, a real man doesn’t act this way! – “Man: an adult male human being with qualities associated with the male, such as courage, honour, integrity”)
I wish there was a class in every high school were young women were taught to believe, that despite their upbringing, despite their environment, despite anything a young male may tell them to the contrary, that they are of immense value, value that is theirs intrinsically. It is theirs purely by the act of breathing. That their mere existence proves worth, value, and significance. That there is no-one else like them in the world. And that without their particular brand of special, the world would be a sadder place.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and for all these young women to know deep down inside that no male is worth the grief that costs them their self esteem, their hope and their dignity. And no male, and indeed no person, is worth losing your home and losing your potential to rent over.
And I wish I could wave that magic wand and give them all courage. Courage to say: “No I did not break these three doors!” … “I did not throw myself against the glass and shatter it everywhere cutting myself in the bargain” … “That person lurking behind me in the shadows where he thinks you can’t see him did it … AND I WON’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” – I truly do. *Sigh*
March 25 2011 | conflict / resolution and Relationships and Society | 2 Comments »
And so it begins. We are already housing some tenants from Christchurch with more coming through the door today. I understand our sales department is also working with some Cantabrians. We see that while you are shaken, you are not stirred from your resolve to live on, move past and to start again. One lady I met today told me the story of how the morning of the shake, for some reason, she had put her address book into her handbag. She informs me that it was completely out of character for her. She also tells me that her address book and the clothes she stood up in where the only things she walked away from Christchurch with. She lost everything else. And it was her address book she turned to to find friends up here to come to. Wow.
So welcome to you all. I hope Northland becomes as much a part of your heart as you all have become a part of ours.
It is amazing how this shake up of the “mainland” has shaken the whole land! I look forward to wearing my Chch tee shirt with pride to show solidarity. And knowing the team at Allens and how strongly a lot of the team are connected to the south I am positive I will not be alone. (Add the fact that they love any opportunity to dress up, and it is definitely a sure thing!)
You know, I can’t imagine how those property managers are coping down there. At last years property management conference, where Allens took out two runner up spots, all the property manager’s from Christchurch were given a special award for something along the lines of “above and beyond the call …” They had earned it in the September shake. And the standing ovation they got was heartfelt.
I kinda think that this year’s conference should be all about them. We could learn so much from them. They will have been through a baptism by fire method of learning how to deal with stuff you don’t expect to see in a normal days work. I for one will be finding any opportunity I can to mix with this special breed of people and learn what I can from them … And then hope I never have to use the knowledge!
A small number of the busy Allens Team who were able to attend the "photo shoot" - dressed in red and black in support of Canterbury last week.
March 17 2011 | Community and Uncategorized | No Comments »
Ok, fasten your reading glasses, I am about to rant!
Let’s start with the media! Oh where do I start with the media?
Maybe with the observation that whatever they say about the real estate market, sales or rentals, tends not to be so much unbiased reporting of facts, but more of a “it’s a slow news day so lets see how we can stuff with the markets today” kind of reporting?
Or shall I start with the totally insensitive (oh I am seriously embarrassed you are asking those questions) reporting that happened in the first 24 hours after the Christchurch quake? “So you called your daughter to say good bye, and how did that feel? And how did your daughter feel?” All while the poor woman was trapped under her desk and she didn’t even know if she was going to be rescued! OMG! Ahhhhhh!!! Bloody idiot!
It is high time society learnt that the media can not be trusted. Just because they say something, it doesn’t make it true! What do they say… 98% of all stats are made up? (I just made that up… see how easy it is?!) The media can make any situation look any way they want it to! And they do! That’s why I loved Paul Henry. At least he was both brutally honest in his opinion and he was completely transparent about his bias. And he challenged everything that didn’t make sense to him. Arrogant? Undoubtedly! But he provoked both thought and discussion. He shone a spotlight on festering scabby sores that needed to be opened up to heal. (Ewww! … Did I write that?)
Gone are the days when you switched the news on and got a “balanced”, well prepared, thoroughly investigated story. Or maybe it never existed. Maybe I just thought what they said was balanced and true. Maybe I was naive. All I know is right now I find myself turning the news off more and more, and I find myself uttering the Tui advert: “Yeah, right …”
Why am I ranting? What provoked this particular rant? Well, the local paper ran a front page article specifying a real demand for a particular section of the rental market. “Can’t get enough of them!” ”Real shortage”… Bullocks.
However I am glad they didn’t call me this time for my input, because they completely misquoted me last time, with entirely the wrong context. This time, I called around a few other Property Management firms in town to see why our experience was different from what was (apparently) happening out there in the marketplace. Ahhh … turns out these people were just as confused as us. “Really?” They said… “Really??”
Hmmm. The truth is, what happens in Auckland is not immediately reflected in Whangarei. Or even for months. We can tend to track their market over time, however we have an over-supply at present. Not an under-supply. And when we look at terms of “high-end” or “top-end” then that is a subjective thing as well. Allens “top-end” is $450pw and over. And these are the properties that are sitting. Another Property Management firm in town describes high-end as $380 – $450pw and these properties are moving okay for them. Our mid range is also moving very well – in fact, we are constantly seeking out more…
I heard Sarah Palin on the weekend using a word I fell in love with. “Sheeple”. A Google search defines “sheeple” as: (a portmanteau of “sheep” and “people”) is a term of disparagement, in which people are likened to sheep; and: People who unquestioningly accept as true whatever their political leaders say or who adopt popular opinion as their own without scrutiny. - Let’s not be sheeple people. Let’s think for ourselves and make our own decisions. Become informed, and not by watching TV news programs! And if you want to know what’s going on in the rental market, call us. We’ll tell you the truth.
March 16 2011 | Investors and Marketing and Media | No Comments »
Now every week, I sit here and try to express to you all how passionate both Allens and the individual property managers here at Allens Property Management are. I hope in some small way you are getting a sense of what we are creating here and what our individual standards are. I do this each week because I believe it is the most important part of property management. If one is not passionate about property management, it falls in to the “it’s just a job” category. And to be honest, a property manager with that attitude is never going to deliver brilliant results. They will never fulfil the expectations of the company, the landlords or the tenants that work with them. And they will be miserable while they fail.
And to be brutally honest, you have to be passionate to survive the waves of dramas that periodically roll in. The passion is like a surfboard, if you will. It is the tool that holds you above the dramas (I would really love to phrase that differently… C#@P… But it doesn’t fit my metaphor!). The “surfboard” allows you to negotiate the waves as they crash around you. It is quite simply what holds your head above water and guides you to shore. (Oh my, aren’t I poetic today?)
Sometimes, when you can feel the swell of dramas rising beneath you, and your sixth sense says: “watch out”, you can feel a quick moment of “Oh S%#T!” as your mind scurries frantically, checking your actions, making sure all your ducks were lined up just in case this happened. But thankfully, that is just your intuition warning you of danger and trying to protect you. As you mentally check and prepare for the potential storm surge, you can relax a little because your consistent passion has future proofed you, the company and your investor.
So where am I heading with this? Well, it’s like this. One of the really cool things about Property Management is the acknowledgement you get for a job well done. The gift baskets, flowers and wine are absolutely wonderful and are very gratefully received. The chocolate overload delivered to Tracy one day was very impressive! And then I received a phone call last week from one of our investors that I think tops the lot for a genuine display of praise and gratitude…
He is one of our bigger investors. He is a long term client with a large portfolio that he steadily adds to. He is a wonderful landlord, very easy to deal with and he understands the business of balancing money with people and their actions. He also understands that our requests for new curtains, carpet and paint from time to time are to protect the marketable value of his portfolio. In general we don’t negotiate our fee. We believe we are worth what we charge and the steady growth of our roll supports that belief. We did however negotiate a discount for this man around eight months ago. It was a gift from us for his ongoing loyalty.
So imagine my surprise when he calls me in my role as manager last week and informs me that he would like to gift back to us the discount we offered. He said that he believed we were more than worth it and he is fully aware of all we do for a small slice of his rental income. He said he considered Allens a great investment and that he had always been happy with the service Allens provided. He added Allens are always “on top of it” and are very quick to sort any problems. Therefore, he would be happy to pay full rates and asked that we please alter our system to reflect this.
Wow! Isn’t that outstanding? So you see, I know our passion for property management is evident. And when we are rewarded with that type of attitude, it helps to feed and grow the underlying passion felt by all.
So I sit here and type this with pride and joy inside. We rock. And it is not just me that thinks so.
Diane Wright Manager,
Allens Home Rentals
March 02 2011 | Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management | 1 Comment »